For Immediate Release, November 13, 2012
Contact: Bill Snape, Center for Biological Diversity, (202) 536-9351
Senate Considering Bill Allowing Needless Wildlife Poisoning to Continue
WASHINGTON— Majority Leader Harry Reid today announced that the U.S. Senate will vote before Thanksgiving on a bill that would prevent the federal government from addressing lead poisoning that kills millions of birds and other wildlife each year. Provisions of the so-called "Sportsmen's Act" (S. 3525) would bar the Environmental Protection Agency from evaluating or regulating toxic lead products used in hunting and fishing, with potentially devastating impacts to wildlife like bald eagles, endangered California condors, swans and loons and human health implications.
“There has not been one hearing or floor debate on this National Rifle Association-led special interest exemption from federal toxic law and there's nothing sporting about poisoning bald eagles or endangered condors,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Lead is a known neurotoxin that kills wildlife and causes humans serious harm. Why is the NRA calling the shots on something so egregiously against the public interest? Will the Senate agree to protect wildlife and public health or will it cave to the NRA and promote continued lead poisoning?”
Senate Environment Chairwoman Barbara Boxer is expected to lead the amendment fight on the Senate floor this week to fix the problems with S. 3525. More than 150 conservation, hunting and health groups are expected to support the effort. Spent lead from hunting and fishing tackle is a widespread killer of bald and golden eagles, swans, endangered California condors and more than 75 other species. Nearly 500 scientific reports have documented the dangers to wildlife from lead exposure.
“This would be a huge step backward in getting toxic lead out of the environment and allows needless wildlife poisonings to continue even though they can be prevented with little impact on America’s hunters and anglers,” said Snape. “Hunters have higher lead levels in their bloodstream than non-hunters. It’s positively un-American to knowingly expose people to toxic lead. There's a reason we banned lead from gasoline and paint.”
There are many commercially available alternatives to lead rifle bullets, shotgun pellets, fishing weights and lures. More than a dozen manufacturers market hundreds of varieties and calibers of nonlead bullets and shot made of steel, copper and alloys of other metals, with satisfactory to superior ballistics. Nonlead bullets and fishing tackle are readily available in all 50 states. Hunters and anglers in states and areas that have lead restrictions or have already banned lead have made successful transitions to hunting with nontoxic bullets and fishing with nontoxic tackle.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.